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May 2017

Allen Foundation gives $30 million toward building facility for homeless

"We should all be alarmed by the growing crisis of homelessness in our community, especially its impact on families," said the CEO of Vulcan, Inc. in an announcement about a $30 million gift toward developing a facility to house homeless families and children. Funds from that company's affiliated Paul G. Allen Family Foundation will be paired with a $5 million commitment from the City of Seattle for the project.

Mercy Housing Northwest, one of the nation's largest nonprofit developers of affordable housing, will develop, own, and operate the multi-family complex. Other nonprofit providers are expected to assist in providing services for children and families in the community.

Representatives from the partner organizations said additional details about the design, location, and target opening date for the innovative, supportive building will be released in the coming months.

Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf said addressing the homeless crisis "requires the commitment and creativity of business, government, and the human services community," adding, "We approached the City of Seattle some months ago to get this project going because we wanted to make a significant impact toward disrupting the cycle of homelessness, and to give homeless families an opportunity to thrive."

"Paul Allen understands the homelessness crisis requires everyone in our community, particularly our business leaders, to help," stated Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in a press release.

The mayor's office reported there are 1,684 families awaiting housing in King County and nearly 3,500 homeless students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools who experienced homelessness during the 2015-2016 school year. The mayor noted an estimated 5,000 people cycle in and out of emergency shelters each year without specific attention given to address the factors that made them homeless in the first place.

The Allen-funded development, using a mix of housing and onsite services, aims to assist homeless families by helping them transition to stable housing and break the cycle of homelessness via the resource hub at the forthcoming facility.

"This remarkable partnership between Paul Allen and the City of Seattle will make lasting opportunities for families most in need," said Bill Rumpf, President of Mercy Housing Northwest. "We are grateful for the opportunity to create affordable apartments and a family service center where parents and children can get out of homelessness, regain resilience and dignity, and pursue economic mobility." 

Mercy Housing Northwest, established in 1981, has developed and now manages almost 2,400 affordable, service-enriched rental homes throughout the region serving more than 5,500 residents each day. The nonprofit organization has also helped over 100 families build and purchase their homes. It operates 48 properties in Washington state for families, seniors, and people with special needs.

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, founded in 1988 by Paul Allen and his sister Jody Allen, has invested nearly half of a billion dollars into improving communities throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.